Picks and Pans Review: Soul Kiss
Olivia convinced everyone with her 1981 album Physical that she was aware of sex. Recent events in her personal life would seem to have sufficiently reaffirmed that awareness. So why this exercise in supersleaze, which runs from the kink of the jacket photograph through the tune Culture Shock, which seems to be a musical tribute to ménages à trois? Overnight Observation is about a doctor trying to seduce a woman patient. You Were Great, How Was I?, an otherwise appealing duet with Beach Boy Carl Wilson backed by producer John Farrar's version of B.B. harmonies, tries to play on its title, without a smattering of wit. In the title tune, Olivia wails on about getting down on her knees and sighs passionately. So curious is this preoccupation with the details of mating that it detracts mightily from the musical aspects of the LP. Farrar and Newton-John have developed a distinctive style for her that carries over across country-pop-rock boundary lines. There's still that almost eerie combination of her cool, frail voice (now mixed with occasional snarls that are apparently supposed to be sexy) and the hypnotic riffs of his synthesizers. As the clever Physical proved, there's a dry ice kind of heat to Newton-John's music that stands on its own; there's no need for all the blatant tarting up. If Olivia's career keeps going this way, just about the only thing she will be able to do next is record an album of duets with Dr. Ruth. (MCA)
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